Tag Archives: Environment

BP (mis)handles Gulf of Mexico Oil Spew

Beyond Petroleum?

The recent industrial accident in the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil well rupture from the British Petroleum (BP) has raised global cries against the petroleum giant and it’s claim of acting to contain the damage. While BP has gone on a PR war to contain the damage to it’s image, gulf residents and environmentalists are up in arms to take the fight to BP’s door.

Not many would remember the 2007, exit of the then BP CEO, Lord John Browne, who was removed owing to his sexual preferences and private life being exposed. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld in BusinessWeek had written an article which claimed to bring out “the real scandal at BP“. The article leveled a wide array of charges against BP ranging from PR misadventures to wrong business decisions being made by the BP boss.

Browne himself set the bar high. In addition to acquiring Amoco and Arco, he launched BP’s $200 million image campaign with the tagline that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum”–embodying principles such as “delivering performance without tradeoffs” in areas ranging from worker safety to the environment. But two years ago, examining actual expenditures in alternative energy, Greenpeace gave Browne an award for the “Best Impression of an Environmentalist.”

Source: businessweek.com

The reason Browne’s memory comes to forth is the recent incident where environmental concerns and PR mismanagement are visible.

Demonstrators claim that the Worldwide BP Protest Day will be marked in over 50 cities in 5 continents on Saturday, June 12, 2010. Protesters are using any and every mode of communication possible. Social media and networking sites are flooded by such communities. The worst thing for BP is the fact that such protests are getting a lot of support.

  • The Facebook Worldwide BP Protest Day page
  • The CODEPINK protest page
  • Boycottbp.org
  • The Financial Times list top-10 online and offline protests:
  • 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling: FB Page started by 350.org,the group is growing steadily with 135,000 fans and counting.
  • Boycott BP: Unquestionably the fastest-growing online movement, Boycott BP started as a Facebook group and is now expanding to multiple international websites. The group asks the public to boycott all BP stations including Castrol, Arco, Aral and AM/PM. The group’s followers have swelled to 450,000.
  • BPGlobalPR: The satirical Twitter feed @BPGlobalPR. (Latest one reads: “Having a conscience was definitely not in the job description when I took the position. ^Tony“)
  • Public Citizen arrest: On June 4 a coalition of nonprofit organizations gathered in Washington, D.C., to make a “citizen’s arrest” of an effigy of BP CEO Tony Hayward. The coalition is now calling for a three-month boycott of BP.
  • World BP Protest Day: June 12 will mark a worldwide protest of BP. Also being organized on Facebook, the group now has commitments for a march in 33 cities.
  • Code Pink: You have to love the brave and impassioned Code Pink Women for Peace.
  • Seize BP: The group wants the U.S. government to seize all of BP’s assets and use them to pay back the damages from the oil spill. Not likely, but they make their point!
  • Change.org’s full debarment plan: Change.org is asking to push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recommend a full “discretionary debarment” of BP, which means no more U.S. government contracts, no new leases in the U.S. and all existing leases canceled. The EPA was already investigating the possibility for debarment and it is expected the agency will open the issue to public comment in the near future.
  • Beyond Oil
  • Hands Across the Sand

Source: FinancialPost.com

It’s clear that BP had never expected as much public outcry on this issue. Now that it has muck flying from every corner, BP is going all out to control the damage, at least the BP damage. It’s home page is splashed with the damage control initiatives it has taken and is being updated constantly.

Politicians in US too are not behind. While they may be honest about their concerns or just trying to gain some political mileage but the fact remains that BP’s mismanagement and misrepresentation about the extent of damage have led to questions being raised on it’s integrity.

BP misrepresented what their technology could do,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday. “They misrepresented the amount of oil that was being spewed forth into the Gulf and continued to do so.”

This is a matter of integrity,” Pelosi said. “BP stated that they had the technology to drill deep, to prevent a blowout and that they had the technology to clean up, and none of these things happened to be a fact.”

Source: CNN.com

On one hand while the world is ready to go all out against the global petroleum gaint, billionaire and Mayor of the New York City stood by the company. In a statement on a radio show Bloomberg went on record to support BP.

“The guy that runs BP didn’t exactly go down there and blow up the well,” he told a radio program. “And what’s more, if you want them to fix it and they are the ones with the expertise, I think I might wait to assign blame until we get it fixed.”

Source: CNN.com

The British PM David Cameron too had similar sentiments which seemed to be fueled more by “economic” motives.

The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak, but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,” the spokesman said in a news release.

He said that it is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.”

Source: CNN.com

While officials, protesters and other interest groups are fighting a pitched battle, oil continues to leak. BP is taking measures to contain the damage but would it be enough?


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Maldives President- “We don’t want a global suicide pact”

Copenhagen Summit-09

Copenhagen Environment Summit-09

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has warned that the world is set to sign a “global suicide pact” unless it agrees a deal in Copenhagen next month to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

At the moment every country arrives at climate negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible,” President Mohamed Nasheed said in Male. “This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide,” Mr Nasheed said.

We don’t want a global suicide pact. We want a global survival pact.

The Maldivian President was inaugurating a two-day meet of 11 nations considered the most vulnerable to climate change, urging them to go carbon neutral, in a bid to show the rich world the way forward.

A group of vulnerable, developing countries committed to carbon neutral development would send a loud message to the outside world,” Mr Nasheed said, adding that they needed to make a commitment to carbon neutrality.

Mr Nasheed had called the meeting of the world’s least polluting smaller states, including Kiribati and Barbados, in a bid to hammer out a common stance ahead of the Copenhagen summit.

If those with the least (pollution) start doing the most, what excuse can the rich have for continuing inaction?” he asked. “We know this is not an easy step to take, and that there might be dangers along the way.”

We want to shine a light, not loudly demand that others go first into the dark.


Maldives: Paradise Lost?

Maldives which is a tourist paradise due to its secluded beaches, coral reefs and scenic beauty portrayed by white-sand, is one of the most vulnerable nations to go under water due to effects of global warming. Almost 80% of the island nation is less than a metre above mean sea level.

More than 190 nations are set to meet for UN talks this year in Copenhagen between December 7 and 18, aiming for a post-2012 treaty to slash emissions and control global warming. The new treaty will take place of the Kyoto Protocol which is slated to be phased out in 2012.

Maldives Cabinet

Maldives Cabinet: Dip for survival

Maldives has recently witnessed a lot of accelerated pro-active efforts to become a carbon neutral nation. The nation has tried to attract global focus on the issue with various programs. The Maldivian cabinet had convened underwater in one such program in October. These programs were part of the 350 campaign program. Maldives has also commissioned a project to set up a 75-MW capacity wind farm earlier this month.

The Gaafaru wind farm project inaugurated by the Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed on Monday includes 30 turbines and is expected to provide the nation with 75 MW of power, powering the capital city Male, the international airport island of Hulhule’ and a number of luxury tourist resorts. The project has been installed at a cost of estimated USD 200-million funded by foreign direct investments.

The 350.org website has posted an online petition to support President Nasheed’s survival pact, announced at the Vulnerable Climate Forum, last week.

350 org, the world renowned international environmental organization has begun a petition to garner international support Survival Pact proposed by President Mohamed Nasheed during the recently held Vulnerable – 14 (V-14) summit.

Source: maidhu.com.mv

The petition is available here.

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Entry denied to decommissioned US warship: Platinum-II

After deliberating for almost a month the Indian authorities have finally decided to deny entry to Platinum-II which served as a US warship under the name SS Oceanic or the SS Independence and was destined to be dismantled in India at the end of its service life.

The Indian ministry of environment and forests in a report said that the inspection of Platinum-II revealed that the ship was laden with toxic material including asbestos and cancer causing Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) though not in loose form but as part of the components in the ship. The report also raised concerns that the ship has been brought into India with false documentation. A team inspected the ship on October 19 and 20 and submitted its report to the ministry on 26 October. The ministry as a response issued an office memorandum to the state.

The memorandum said, “It has been brought to the notice of the ministry of environment and forests that the ship violated United States Toxic Substances Control Act and an order has been passed by the US Environment Protection Authority against the owners of the ship.” It also pointed out that there have also been allegations that the ship has been brought into India with a falsified flag and registry. It asked the Gujarat Maritime Board to look into the case of falsified ownership of the ship that had come under the scanner of the government and the civil society recently.

The ship had arrived in Indian waters last month but after serious concerns from different interest groups Indian government blocked the entry of the ship to the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujrat on western coast of India.

Alang which is also known as the “graveyard of ships” is the largest ship-breaking facility in Asia. The irony of situation is that the workers here at huge risk of exposure to toxins as the operations are largely manual. The workers work with basic tools to dismantle large ships posing grave threat to their personal as well as environmental security.

Environment campaigners as well as civil liberty organizations have been demanding closure of the shipyard for years and they have welcomed the current decision.

The order is a victory in the fight against toxic trafficking and dumping on third world countries,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, a member organisation of the coalition group, Indian Platform on Shipbreaking.

Until now, India has been reluctant to expose the horrors of its ship-breaking industry. Hopefully they are beginning to realise that this industry is not worth the legacy of toxic waste, occupational disease and death, and illegality it leaves in its wake.

In 2006, the French government had to recall a similar decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental groups who claimed that the ship contained huge amounts of toxic chemicals, including asbestos.

A 2006 study initiated by the Government of India indicated that one out of six workers at Alang, showed signs of asbestos poisoning.

It said many of the workers tested showed early signs of asbestosis – an incurable disease of the lungs.

Activists say the yards are not equipped to handle asbestos.

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Maldives Government- Underwater to Wind Farm


Maldives Cabinet

The Maldivian Cabinet

The Cabinet of the beautiful island nation of Maldives last month set a precedent of commitment to save environment when the full cabinet convened for a underwater session to sign off a resolution to urge the global community to curb carbon emission. Some felt that it was a one-off trick pulled to attract attention but the ministry led by President Mohammad Nasheed, has now added action to the words.

The Gaafaru wind farm project inaugurated by the Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed on Monday includes 30 turbines and is expected to provide the nation with 75 MW of power, powering the capital city Male, the international airport island of Hulhule’ and a number of luxury tourist resorts. The project has been installed at a cost of estimated USD 200-million funded by foreign direct investments.


Wind Farm

Maldives has set a goal to be a carbon neutral nation by 2020 and with the commissioning of the current project carbon emissions are expected to go down by as much as 25%. Being a small island nation, Maldives receives consistent winds throughout the year. The excess electricity generated by the turbines on windy days will be used to run a water desalination plant, which will produce bottled drinking water. On the days when there are considerably low winds, a liquefied natural gas plant will provide the plant a 50MW back-up power.

State Electric Company Limited, STELCO, signed a 20-year agreement with Falcon Energy on Monday, whereby Falcon Energy will build and operate a 75 megawatt wind farm in Gaafaru island, North Male’ atoll. The $200 million foreign direct investment will see the construction of the latest generation wind turbines, which will be connected to the electricity grid of Male’ through a network of submarine electricity cables.

Falcon in partnership with WGS has previously commissioned onshore and offshore wind farms totaling 1,500 MW over the past ten years, in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Canada.

The president addressing the ceremony reiterated his belief that the winners of the 21st century would be “the countries who were ready to embrace renewable energy and green technologies.

We want the Maldives to be the place to test renewables. We want the Maldives to be the place to build renewables. We want the Maldives to be the place to invest in renewables. We will position the Maldives as a showcase for renewable energy,” said the president.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change In 2007 had warned that an increase in sea levels of just 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 24 inches) would make Maldives almost uninhabitable by 2100. Less than 20% the this tiny nation, which is famed for its tourist attractions due to its coral reefs and white-sand beaches, is less than a metre (3.3 feet) above sea level.

NP NowPublic


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